**I just want to begin with this in mind: there is no way that I will be able to do justice to the depth of emotion experienced by Gia today. There are no words. I can only do my best, as this will serve as a written record for her in years to come. I also don't know if, in re-living today as I write it all down, I will be able to complete this post. If not, Simon may have to come in and substitute for me.**
**I made it all the way through, by the way. Tears and all.**
When God executed His plan of redemption, it was to a broken world that He sent His Son. If not for the brokenness, redemption would not have been necessary. So it is with the Miller family. In order for God to redeem--restore--what was lost...for Gia and for us...but mostly for Gia...there must first exist the loss. The brokenness. Today exemplified to us BOTH the brokenness AND the redemption in a paradox that I just cannot explain.
In both of our other adoptions, the orphanage visit was several days after Gotcha. Because of the special circumstances of this adoption--proximity to Beijing; limited time in Shijiazhuang--the orphanage visit took place the day after adoption. You might think it strange to hear me say that in a way, I was dreading today. I knew it would be hard for Gia. However, I knew that it needed to take place so that healing could come.
We started off the day with a hearty breakfast and some silliness.
|The Gs' shirts say:|
Gracie--Jie Jie (older sister)
Gemma--Mei Mei (younger sister)
Gia: Jie Jie/Mei Mei
Then we headed off for our visit.
I must first explain exactly what the orphanage is. Its actual name is Social Welfare Institute. This means that it houses both orphaned children and elderly people.
We walked into the room where we met Gia yesterday, and waited until the people who were going to escort us on our tour were ready.
They lead us back to the buildings where Gia Chunyu has lived and gone to classes her entire life.
We went into the classroom building first. I was very impressed. For such a hot day, it was nice and cool inside. It was also very colorfully painted and decorated. Much of the decor was comprised of children's artwork.
One of the women who accompanied us on the tour was Gia Chunyu's teacher. And she spoke English. She was able to tell us a bit about every room we went into as well as some of the things she taught to Gia Chunyu.
She is in the striped blouse, explaining to me some of the activities that the children got to participate in.
Also in this building were rooms for various rehabilitations: physical therapy, sensory therapy, music therapy, and kinesthetic therapy. I was very pleased to see all that they were able to offer Gia Chunyu and the other children at this SWI. The building was clean, kept up, modern, and overall a very lovely place to be.
On several different occasions the women accompanying us on the tour told me how kind-hearted and caring Gia Chunyu is. Oh, my heart just swelled to hear this! Even in the midst of what some would deem unsavory life circumstances, here is a little girl who gives God glory by living the way He made her to live. I am SO BLESSED to be her mama!!
Then we got to go inside the building which housed the dormitories. We got to see Gia Chunyu's bed and where she spent much of her time.
It was almost time for us to go. Gia Chunyu had been holding my hand the ENTIRE time we had been on the tour. I felt this was a big bonding moment for us. It was twofold--she was proud to show me her "home" and to show me to her ayis (nannies) and teachers; she was making sure that I would not leave her or let her go.
She was giving hugs, as you see above, and then she grabbed my hand and started tugging toward the exit. I wasn't sure what was going on until our guide said that Gia Chunyu's best friend was coming to see her one more time.
It was then that I knew it was gutcheck time. I knew this was going to be the crisis moment.
I knew it.
Gia Chunyu literally RAN to her friend, Shi Shu Ping (**This was the name we were told was hers. It was incorrect. It is NOT her real name!**).
I expected to see a 6-7-8 year old girl running toward her. Instead, I saw a 12-year-old wheelchair-bound young lady.
Gia Chunyu let go of my hand at that point, and I watched as the anguish and beauty of life collided.
This is where I lost it. My eyes started swimming, just thinking that this is the last time my daughter will EVER get to see her best friend! I almost couldn't stand it. And as much as my heart was breaking for Gia Chunyu and Shi Shu Ping (not her real name), I knew that Gia Chunyu's heart was breaking even more.
The ayis (nannies) told us that these two were everything to each other. They looked out for each other. They took care of each other.
Gia knew. She knew. So did Shi Shu Ping (not her real name).
She wheeled away practically before we even knew what had happened.
Walking away from there was THE HARDEST THING I'VE EVER DONE. HANDS DOWN.
See, this is the part of adoption (especially of older children) that most non-adoptive people just don't get...or don't WANT to get.
THIS is the brokenness. To take this beautiful child away from the only life she's ever known--away from her one true friend--is IMPOSSIBLE.
It shouldn't have to ever happen.
I was crying. Simon was crying.
Gia was not. I could tell that something had changed for her, though.
She knew that this was broken, too.
We ended out tour on a positive note.
And we headed to the train station to ride the bullet train back to Beijing.
You might be wondering how Gia Chunyu did today with her carsickness. I found some Dramamine and gave her some in the morning before we left for the SWI. No carsickness in the car at all.
Well, once we got on the train, she started to get subdued, and she had a look on her face like she might be getting sick. It was about time for the Dramamine to wear off.
I had everything all ready in case she needed to be sick, and I just stroked her arm as the train began to move.
Flashback: Yesterday, Gotcha Day, Gracie said to me more than once, "I'm so glad that Gia seems happy." I agreed with her, but I also told her that at some point Gia Chunyu will grieve. Especially as she's an older child whose life experiences have etched memories onto her heart. Memories that she will have to mourn in order to move on.
Back to the train: I thought Gia Chunyu was feeling sick, but at about 10 minutes into the train ride, she started to cry. She looked at me as if she needed permission to cry and I said "It's okay." She started sobbing. And I knew that she wasn't sick...she was heartsick. She was grieving. She was mourning.
She knew that every mile the train traveled was one more mile away from her home, her life, her best friend. She knew.
She sobbed. Wracking, heart-wrenching sobs. And I sobbed with her. For all that this little girl, whom God had already etched onto my heart, was mourning. For the brokenness of this life that would put such a precious little girl into such a set of circumstances. It was grief unfathomable.
What does a mother do for her child in that situation? I did the only thing I could do. I cried with her and I prayed over her. I said the name of Jesus out loud over and over again. I said "wo ai ni" (I love you) over and over again. I kept saying "it's okay." All I could do was stroke her arm and wipe her tears. And so, for an hour or more...all the way to Beijing, we cried and I prayed.
She finally calmed down a bit, and looked at me, and gave me a partial smile.
It was at that moment that I absolutely knew that this child is the bravest person I know.
We just celebrated Memorial Day, and the courage, fortitude, and bravery of soldiers who have given all for our American freedoms. I admire them all and agree that they are brave beyond belief.
This little girl--Gia Pearl Chunyu Miller--is the bravest person in the world.
I will forever remember this day. I will forever be proud to tell the story of how my daughter displayed courage beyond her years, in the face of losing all that she knew and held dear.
I will forever be changed.
For now is when the redemption begins. God did not choose Gia for us or us for Gia to leave her in this broken state. He WILL restore what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25), and He will redeem the brokenness that she feels now.
I have every confidence that He didn't bring us this far to leave us.
Praise God for brokenness that comes before redemption.
Praise God for Gia Chunyu.
The bravest person in the world.
P.S. If your heart has been moved for Shi Shu Ping (not her real name), please let me know, and I will do my best to put you in touch with people who can help you find out more about her. She will be ineligible for adoption when she turns 14.